European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS)

About the EU-LFS

Population: The European Union Labour Force Survey is a rotating random sample survey covering the population in private households in currently 35 European countries. The sampling units are dwellings, household or individuals depending on the country-specific sampling frames. In 2016 the sample size of the EU-LFS was about 4,500,000 individuals.

Survey Period: 1968-1972 annual surveys, 1973-1981 biennial surveys, since 1983 annual surveys (1983: start of EU LFS microdata collection). From 1998, the EU LFS has step by step become a continuous quarterly survey.

Survey Method: The EU LFS is conducted by the National Statistical Institutes across Europe and is centrally processed by Eurostat. As a rule the data are collected by interviewing the sampled individuals directly, but proxy interviews (through a responsible person in the household) are also possible. Moreover part of the data can also be supplied by equivalent information from alternative sources, such as e.g. administrative registers (mainly social insurance records and population registers). Survey participation is compulsory in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Austria, Portugal and Norway.

Topics: The main aim of the LFS is to provide comparable information on employed, unemployed and inactive persons of working age (15 years and above) in European countries. The definitions of employment and unemployment used in the LFS closely follow the International Labour Organisations guidelines. Common classifications used are: NACE, ISCO, ISCED, NUTS.
Core topics of the LFS are demographic background; labour status; employment characteristics of the main job; hours worked; second job; previous work experience of person not in employment; search for employment; methods used during previous four weeks to find work; main labour status; education and training; situation one year before survey; income; atypical work.
Since 1999 the LFS also includes so called 'ad hoc modules' on a yearly but rotating basis (see EU LFS ad hoc modules).

Data Access: The current legal framework enables access to anonymised microdata available at Eurostat only for scientific purposes (see EU LFS regulations), however the access is restricted to universities, research institutes, national statistical institutes, central banks inside the EU, as well as to the European Central Bank. Individuals cannot be granted direct data access. For detailled information concerning data access, costs and how to submit an access request see:

Access contact point: estat-microdata-access(at)ec.europe(dot)eu

Data documentation (provided by Eurostat)

Main characteristics of the national surveys

Quality reports

National questionnaires

EU LFS regulations

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